International Journal of Business and Social Science

ISSN 2219-1933 (Print), 2219-6021 (Online) DOI: 10.30845/ijbss

Understanding Policy Outcomes on the Frontiers of Science as a Power Maintenance Problem
Rebecca C. Harris

U.S. science policy outcomes are often best understood as solutions to a power problem—not a policy problem. Policy will maintain the power of current subsystems by extending current government programs to cover the new science. Policy will also continue to support the regulated interests at the expense of public interest. True policy innovation will come only if the new science changes elite beliefs or causes disaster—something rare but possible in science policy. This paper examines five U.S. policy areas (patents, reproductive medicine, food safety, human subject research, and criminal prosecution) to demonstrate the reality of power maintenance in policy reactions to new science and the rarity of disaster and changes in belief systems. Gene patenting, assisted reproductive technology, genetically modified foods, gene therapy and forensic DNA regulations maintain current power structures and do not adequately address substantive policy problems.

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